2 imperfect buy-low free agents the Cleveland Cavaliers could target this summer

Not every swing needs to be a homerun.
Los Angeles Clippers v Toronto Raptors
Los Angeles Clippers v Toronto Raptors / Cole Burston/GettyImages
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly taken their core four off the market, making their offseason goal to fill the roster with the right role players to capitalize on their core's strengths - and hide their flaws.

Rather than blowing up their core after another playoff appearance, the Cavs seemingly believe a change in coaching and leadership will unlock a greater offensive flow. While a head coach can answer many of Cleveland's needs, they will need to be given the right players to achieve their goals.

There is no single formula to success in the NBA. The path one franchise takes to achieve greatness will lead to catastrophe for another. While the Golden State Warriors won back-to-back NBA titles by adding Kevin Durant in the 2016 offseason, the Brooklyn Nets could not reclaim that same magic by building a super team with Durant two years later. When the Warriors reclaimed the title in 2022, they did so by trusting in an undervalued wing in Andrew Wiggins. As hard as it is for any Cavaliers writer or fan to admit, by building an offensive system that elevates those who buy in, Golden State built the strongest dynasty of any franchise in the 2010s.

Now, the Cavs are attempting to find their path to the Finals after reaching the second round for the first time since 2018.

If the Cavaliers intend to retain their core, success will come through complementary moves and depth. The Cavs still need more shooting on their wing and lack reliable frontcourt depth behind Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. The free agent pool lacks any realistic backup centers who can stretch the floor and add a new element to Cleveland's offense, making the draft a more suitable option for the Cavs to complement their frontcourt rotation.

The wing position and backcourt, though, could be bolstered in free agency by taking the second approach the Warriors showed. Rather than swapping a core star for an All-Star level wing, the Cavaliers could find a diamond in the rough, signing an underrated free agent and turning them into a star role player. As always, it is easier said than done, but a low-risk, high-reward free agent does not force the Cavs to part with one of their current contributors and only gives another potential game-changer if it works out.

1. Bruce Brown, Jr. - Toronto Raptors

After winning the 2023 NBA Finals with Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, Bruce Brown, Jr. declined his player option and entered unrestricted free agency last summer. Brown was viewed as a detrimental loss to the Nuggets as he signed a two-year, $45 million contract with the Indiana Pacers. The second year included a team option, giving the organization control over Brown's future in the short term.

With full free agency approaching, Brown seems likely to become an unrestricted free agent again after a deadline trade for Pascal Siakam sent the champion up north to the Toronto Raptors. Though the Raptors could pick up his option and facilitate a trade, Toronto might cut their losses and enter the offseason with more cap flexibility instead. With the Raptors, Brown's production took a dip, averaging 9.6 points and 2.7 assists per game and only starting 11 of his 34 contests after the trade.

If the Raptors decline his $23 million team option, Brown will likely be available for the Mid-Level Exception, taking a pay cut on his next contract. While Brown's value has gone down across the NBA, he offers a positional versatility the Cavaliers would quickly come to love. Brown fluidly plays in either the point guard, shooting guard or small forward roles with ease. At 6-foot 4-inches, Brown is an undersized wing but taller guard, and his overall skillset allows him to fill in wherever needed.

Whether it is injuries, a bad night or something else, Cleveland could value Brown's viability in three separate roles. Similar to Caris LeVert, Brown could come off the Cavs bench in a multitude of lineup compositions both in an off-ball or on-ball role.

Following Brown, the Cavaliers could shift to a veteran forward ready to redeem themselves in a better environment.